Judge Síofra O’Leary elected president of European Court of Human Rights
Judge Síofra O’Leary, the Irish judge on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), has been elected as the president of the court for a two-year term.
She is the first woman and the first Irish person to serve as president of the court in its 63-year history, and will take up office on 1 November 2022.
Human rights campaigners and legal experts previously told Irish Legal News that they would welcome the Dublin-born judge’s potential appointment to the prominent role as a boost to the court as well as to Ireland’s international reputation.
A graduate of University College Dublin with a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, Judge O’Leary spent years lecturing on EU law at a number of universities prior to her appointment as an ECtHR judge in 2015.
She was appointed as vice-president of the court in January 2022.
Michelle Ní Longáin, president of the Law Society of Ireland, said: “On behalf of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland, I am delighted to congratulate Judge Síofra O’Leary on her historic appointment to the office of president of the European Court of Human Rights.
“The European Court of Human Rights has helped shape the Ireland we know today, playing a pivotal role in improving our personal rights and increasing access to justice. As we live through extraordinary times, the European Court of Human Rights is vital in the upholding of law across Europe and in paving the way for increased access to justice for all.
“As the first woman to be elected to this position, Judge O’Leary will lead the shaping of the future of the European Court of Human Rights. It is very important for women at all levels in the legal profession in Ireland and internationally, and for society as a whole, to see the appointment of a woman judge to such an important role.
“I wish Judge O’Leary every success as President of the European Court of Human Rights.”
Helen McEntee, the justice minister, said: “I want to offer my warm congratulations to Judge O’Leary on her historic election as president of the European Court of Human Rights.
“Judge O’Leary is the first Irish person, and the first woman, to be elected president of the court in its 63-year history.
“The European Court of Human Rights is an integral institution in enforcing our human rights and upholding our fundamental freedoms, established after World War II to ensure that never again could governments or institutions abuse people’s rights with impunity. Never has the raison d’etre of the court been more pertinent than the current situation we find ourselves in with the war in Ukraine.
“The judgments of the court regarding Irish cases have paved the way for many seismic reforms in Irish society which have ultimately improved fundamental safeguards for the human rights of our citizens.
“Judge O’Leary’s appointment as president of the court is a source of great pride for our country, and is testament to her recognised expertise and the distinction with which she has served in her current and former positions.
“I wish her the best during her term as president of the court.”